A Series of Symposia on Iranian Cultural History at New York University

Iran: Animating the Archive

October 2015-March 2016


Archives are integral in offering insights into a society’s social, political, cultural, and economic past, but what happens when political upheaval results in the scattering of archives, both official and unofficial, personal and public?

Following the 1979 Iranian Revolution, some official archives were destroyed for ideological reasons, others for espousing “improper culture,” and some simply to change the historical narrative. Nearly four decades after the Iranian Revolution, a new generation of Iran scholars are now researching the socio-cultural history of Iran in the years leading up to and following the Revolution, and are faced with a haphazard selection of resources.

Animating the Archive presents a series of symposia to gather together artists, archivist, academics and researchers to re-imagine archives of Iranian history.  Discussions activate and animate a variety of archival practices by examining processual and compositional elements through which archives are created and made available. The symposia pose a number of questions regarding what the archive can offer, such as:

  • What happens to archives after moments of national upheaval and ideological disagreements? 
  • What role do disaggregate archives play? 
  • What roles do these archives play and what culture do they keep? What culture is missing? 

The goal of this series is to encourage debate and the opportunity to rethink how official and unofficial archives can offer publics valuable resources into Iranian history and can reanimate provocative retellings of Iranian cultural history.

The series is organized by Narges Bajoghli and Leili Sreberny-Mohammadi, both PhD candidates in Sociocultural Anthropology at New York University. 

The series is generously supported and sponsored by the following centers, departments, and initiatives at New York University: 

Community Sponsors: 

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A Part of Memoirs of a Soldier

The embankment where we were stationed led to the Khorramshahr asphalt road. For this reason, the Iraqis tried hard to recapture it. And finally, near at noon, they were able to settle in the embankment next to the asphalt road and shoot diagonally towards us from there. We had no choice but to retreat. Captain Barati, the battalion commander, ordered two kilometers behind to build an embankment for us to settle there.

Your Problem is Different / You Hinted Not to Hit More

One day, they came to me and said: “We want to take you to the prosecutors office so that the investigator will interrogate you.” We had been famous for the meetings we organized as the Anti-Baha’i Association. At that time, there were many people in Jahrom that worked in different jobs; Among other things, there was a sergeant major in Shahrbani (law enforcement force), who stood guard duty instead of the guard ...

Privacy and Its Niceties in Oral History

Privacy in the process of recording and publishing memories is an issue that has attracted attention of activists in this field and those interested in legal issues in recent years with the expansion of activities of memoirist individuals and groups. Oral history interviews include close and personal relationships between interviewers, narrators and their organizational sponsors. This relationship is important for all groups. Interviewers feel an obligation to the people who have allowed ...

Memories of Hojjat al-Islam Seyyed Hadi Khamenei

Memories from Prison about MKO
Regardless of all the issues, training in prison challenged me and some of my friends, and its main factor was the same cabals, especially Mojahedin-e Khalgh Organization (MKO); it runs in the name of a religious prison and intended to manage the cells openly and secretly, and anyone who wanted to enter this cycle, had to accept the whole organization and its establishment. They even recruited some low-level clerics to achieve their goals.